On Market Street in Parikia, there’s a tiny little shop, PAWS, that raises money to feed stray animals by selling donated items. That’s where I bought “The Unknown Errors of Our Lives” by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. (Divakaruni is better known for “The Mistress of Spices”.)
“The Unknown Errors of Our Lives” is a collection of 9 short stories evolving around Indians transplanted in the States—the inbetween of East meets West. Divakaruni is, undoubtedly, a good writer and easy to read. However, there is a sadness in her stories that, for my own reasons, I would like to avoid. Phrases like, when speaking of old people, “… their smiles took a long time to form, and then strayed on their faces forever, until the children couldn’t tell them apart from their wrinkles” are poetic but incompatible with the direction I’ve taken this summer. However, as I said, it’s easy reading and I finished it quickly.
The story that shares the book’s title, “The Unknown Errors of Our Lives,” talks about Ruchira and her upcoming marriage. While packing, she comes across one of her old notebooks, her “Book of Errors” where, as a teen, she’d write down the errors made. More specifically, the mistakes one makes without realizing it. And maybe it was this early realization as to how many and how easy errors can be made that permits her to accept an uncomfortable truth regarding her fiance’s past.
The “Book of Errors” made me think of Slam Books that were so popular when I was in middle school.
A Slam Book was basically a looseleaf notebook filled with pages proposing various questions about various subjects meant to collect a variety of opinions from a variety of people—a primitive form of Facebook. Unfortunately, it often turned out to be a collection of “slams” thus prohibited by our teachers and confiscated if found. The need to make them, maybe, had alot to do with the age. Middle school is a transitional period where hormones are pushing you from childhood into adulthood. It is a time when we are forming our new identity and often do so based on peer pressure and the status quo.
Adolescence is a time when dendrites become a jungle and, trapped inside, you struggle to find your way out.
Other notebooks of interest:
Nick Cave’s handwritten dictionary via A Peek Inside the Notebooks of Famous Authors, Artists and Visionaries
The Textile Books of Louise Bourgeois
Excerpts. From Diary Pages 1994-1995